Swiss design?

All throughout college I've heard so much about how awesome Swiss design is. I've also seen a huge number of examples: books, posters, typefaces... I have to say, though, that generalizations of this kind are harmful. When you call something good or bad based on such a blanket definition, you are invariably not giving proper credit to some things and giving too much credit to others. A couple weeks ago, I did a post on signs that I saw back in the US. I pointed out that they were not in line with the original Helvetica Man design. While the Continue Reading

Oddly specific

Signs and labels of all kinds are a source of unending fascination for me. Today, I'd like to talk about two of them that I recently saw. You've probably heard about Helvetica Man (a term coined by Ellen Lupten). Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, I'm sure you've seen him a thousand times. Think back to the last time you visited restroom in a public place. Remember that pictogram that tells you which one is the men's restroom, and which one is the women's? In 1974, US Department of Transportation decided it was time to standardize the signs Continue Reading

The joys of Fiat 500

You might remember my earlier post on car temperature controls. Back when I wrote it, I thought those controls were the worst thing about cars. Enter my new arch-nemesis: Fiat 500. To cut the long story shot, somebody hit my car while it was parked, and it took over a month to get it fixed. In the meantime, the insurance company kindly provided me with a free Fiat 500. I must say I was not disappointed: the makers of this car managed to put a rotating knob for switching between getting air from outside and recirculating it. As far as Continue Reading

Teavana's new labels

At the end of last year, the local Teavana store got a major facelift. Now the teas are no longer hidden behind the register, but can instead be browsed by buyers. I am assuming that similar changes are happening across the other Teavana stores in the US. Yesterday I discovered that I was running low on my favorite mint tea, so I went to the store to actually buy something for the first time since the remodel. What I found out is that in addition to changing the appearance of the store, they also changed the labels that they print Continue Reading

Material matters

Signs of all sorts surround us. Some are good and clear, such as most of street signs, while others can be hard to read and confusing. However, typography is not the only thing that makes a good sign. It is true that bad typography will likely make it bad, but that is not my point today. What sometimes matters even more is the appropriateness of typography. Scale and material are two of the most important factors in this regard. For instance, using type that is too ornate or otherwise hard to read on a small plaque is a bad idea, Continue Reading